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A Comment about Bucklebury in The Lord Of The Rings

In JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Bucklebury is an outpost of the Shire, in the Middle Earth region of Eriador, about halfway between Michel Delving and Bree. Best known for its ferry across the Brandywine, Bucklebury is a little way due south of the usual route into and out of the Shire, across the Brandywine Bridge. At the eastern edge of the Shire, it is quite close to the world of Men.

Did Tolkien know of the real Bucklebury Village when he wrote his book? He may well have done, as it is only about an hour's drive from Oxford. It certainly looks the part too and while it does not have a ferry, it does have a ford.You will no doubt find a great deal more information on Bucklebury in the pages here but a brief description of the Village would be as a classic English village of the ‘the Shires'. Nestled in its own valley, it is a beautiful place with only 20 houses, no shops, no post office and no pub. With a traditional Manor House (complete with a Lord of the Manor), a substantial early-Georgian Vicarage and a very old, historic and homely church with a pretty churchyard; a yew tree and a line of limes are its distinguishing features. The houses of Bucklebury are mostly unremarkable, with only four of the Elizabethan timber-framed cottages remaining. Once the site of an old-fashioned foundry, it has never followed the usual evolution of the ‘chocolate box' beauty of an English village. One could suggest the Bucklebury of Middle Earth would have been affected by its proximity to Men in small ways too, perhaps building in a slightly less-than-traditional way, no doubt to the horror of those in Hobbiton. Somehow though these buildings would all fit into the surrounding countryside easily, as Hobbit burrows should; and fortunately, so it is with the real Bucklebury Village. The Ford itself has not been so lucky, recently re-concreted, complete with railings and a measuring stick, it is not picturesque but is still unobtrusive, usable in the style of its original intention and it is a popular place on hot summer days. The river it fords, the Pang, runs the length of the valley and is relatively unspoilt in this area. It has been known to support trout and herons and otter occasionally visit. Bucklebury Village of the real world is a worthy namesake for the Bucklebury of the Shire: difficult to find and very often overlooked, that has been its saving grace. The world of Men and Black Riders (most often in the form of planning officers and gas companies) is terrifyingly close and on a practical level the Village is probably only saved from the fate of its cousin Upper Bucklebury by its pig farm and lack of mains sewerage! But those who live here know this is a very small price to pay indeed.

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